I’d never seen The Gruffalo before but managed to squeeze it in this time around just before I jet off to Spain for some sun, sand and sangria. I wasn’t expecting much from a show made for three year olds but it is probably the best children’s show I have ever seen and left me wanting to go straight to the box office and book to see it again.
Based on the 1999 children’s book by Julia Donaldson, The Gruffalo has been extended from a thirty two page picture book, into a fifty five minute play, with three actors playing a variety of different roles, mixed in with songs and music. The Gruffalo has been adapted for the stage by Tall Stories theatre company and has visited the West End for the last six years and has also been out on a UK tour.
Mouse is in the deep dark forest but she isn’t scared. She isn’t scared of anyone. Until she meets Fox who is hungry and thinks she sounds like a pretty good snack. Thankfully her quick whit enables her to convince the Fox that she is waiting for her friend, The Gruffalo, to arrive for a lunch date. She convinces the Fox that Gruffalo’s love eating Foxes and it quickly scarpers. Similar situations occur with an Owl and a Snake but she frightens them off with similar stories. But that’s ok because there is no such thing as a Gruffalo. Or is there? In a bizarre twist of events it transpires that The Gruffalo does in fact exist and is actually quite partial to a bit of mouse himself. Can mouse use her quick thinking to survive this story or will she meet her demise with the The Gruffalo?
Ellie Bell (Mouse) is brilliantly charming and loveable and I instantly wanted to be her best friend. Charlie Guest (Fox, Owl, Snake) is brilliant in all three roles and appears to revel in his performance, soaking up every second like an excited child at Christmas. Steve McCourt (The Gruffalo) is great as the story’s narrator, bouncing around the stage, letting everyone know what is going on.
There are enough adult jokes in the show to make it just as enjoyable for parents as it is for children and it was an hour of my life very well spent. Couldn’t recommend this enough. Book to see it now!
Reviewed by West End Wilma
Photo: Tall Stories
THE GRUFFALO plays day times at the Lyric Theatre until 8 January 2017. Tickets